Mueller fallout continues as Greg Craig trial opens – POLITICO
Greg Craig, former White House counsel to Barack Obama, is set to face trial on a felony charge of lying to and misleading Justice Department officials about his work with Paul Manafort for Ukraine’s government. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo The last time reporters and photographers scrambled after the Washington power lawyer Greg Craig as he…

Greg Craig

Greg Craig, frail White Dwelling counsel to Barack Obama, is determined to face trial on a criminal tag of lying to and misleading Justice Division officers about his work with Paul Manafort for Ukraine’s authorities. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo

The final time reporters and photographers scrambled after the Washington vitality criminal professional Greg Craig as he entered the federal courthouse blocks from the Capitol, he became as soon as shepherding a excessive-profile defendant — Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright — to face charges of lying in a leak investigation.

On Monday, the click scrum will all as soon as more descend on the frail Obama White Dwelling counsel as he makes his attain into U.S. District Court docket, but the cameras will probably be pointed squarely at him. This time, Craig’s the one in the defendant’s chair, build aside to face trial on a criminal tag of lying to and misleading Justice Division officers about his work with Paul Manafort for Ukraine’s authorities.

Tale Persevered Under

Craig, seventy four, isn’t the most effective passe of the Washington establishment to play a starring role in the 2 conditions. Key to each narratives is a successfully-known and successfully-connected journalist: Fresh York Instances correspondent David Sanger.

The centerpiece of the authorities’s case in opposition to Craig contains his transport to Sanger on Dec. 11, 2012, of a 186-web page assert that Craig and assorted legal professionals at Skadden Arps had worked on for months analyzing Ukraine’s prosecution and conviction of frail High Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on corruption charges.

U.S. prosecutors sigh that as soon as Craig reached out to Sanger, the longtime D.C. criminal professional became as soon as the utter of his private connections to kick off a barely choreographed public relations notion designed to maximize the political perfect thing regarding the assert for Ukraine’s president on the time, Viktor Yanukovych. In doing so, Craig became as soon as violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act on legend of he had by no methodology registered as an agent for Ukraine, prosecutors dispute.

Craig’s protection contends that in his dealings with Sanger, Craig wasn’t if truth be told performing for his client, but became as soon as seeking to provide protection to himself and his regulation agency. Craig’s legal professionals and allies sigh that in the months leading as a lot as initiate of the assert, Manafort and others shut to Yanukovych made gross that they were planning to slip the overview as a vindication for the Ukrainian authorities and an endorsement of the fairness of Tymoshenko’s trial.

Craig’s prosecution comes amid a superior effort by the Justice Division to step up enforcement of FARA, but his allies counsel that he’s being singled out as a result of case’s connections to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and to Manafort.

“It’s if truth be told off that the first-ever prosecution of this extra or much less ingredient would be for any individual chatting with a journalist and asserting issues to him that were upright,” mentioned Stuart Taylor, a frail Fresh York Instances reporter and shut friend of Craig’s. “That’s something to be applauded, no longer indicted for. … What damage became as soon as completed? What villainous ingredient has took build aside?”

Essentially based mostly on Craig’s protection, his transfer to fetch the assert back to Sanger became as soon as no longer the opening salvo in Ukraine’s public-relations barrage, but moderately a defensive parry by Craig to fetch the assert back to a journalist at possibility of capture the assert’s ambivalent tone and findings about Tymoshenko’s treatment.

“There became as soon as indeed a media notion, and Mr. Craig became as soon as an obstacle to it,” protection criminal professional William Murphy mentioned all the most effective plan by a pretrial hearing Friday. “He obstructed it. He detoured it. … He became as soon as by no methodology a chunk of the media notion, and that became as soon as his attain of thinking on the time that he talked to David Sanger.”

Nonetheless prosecutor Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez mentioned Friday that this thought became as soon as belied by Manafort’s response after Craig spoke to journalists regarding the assert.

“Nicely completed,” Manafort wrote to Craig. “The professional has emerged all as soon as more. … The preliminary rollout has been very tremendous and your backgrounding has been key to it all.”

Two days later, Manafort followed up with one other message: “Folks in Kiev are very ecstatic. That it is probably you’ll well well presumably moreover very successfully be ‘THE MAN.’”

Nonetheless protection legal professionals contend that by the point of the ideally obedient rollout of the assert, Craig became as soon as gravely concerned that Manafort, his aide Rick Gates and the general public relations agency FTI Consulting were going to distort the findings so badly that it would possibly perchance probably well well cling-out Craig and his agency.

“FTI and Manafort and Gates had to lie regarding the assert in assert to persuade their client, Mr. Yanukovych, they had completed a extensive job,” Murphy mentioned.

U.S. District Court docket Mediate Amy Berman Jackson mentioned the entire moderately just a few emails about spinning the assert and boasting about qualified news accounts left her suspecting that just a few of these appealing were claiming credit for issues they had little or nothing to enact with.

“Phase of the realm with all these guys is that they’re all PR guys,” the reflect mentioned. “They purchase credit for the most effective stuff. , Manafort gradually takes credit for the most effective stuff, he doesn’t purchase credit for the harmful stuff.”

The trial’s focal point on the art work of spinning journalists would possibly perchance well well moreover fuel present suspicion in some quarters that the Washington press corps, policymakers and advocates are too intimate.

Jonathan Hawker, a frail FTI advisor who worked on the rollout of the assert, told the FBI that Craig suggested that he and Sanger deliberate to talk regarding the mission over drinks. “Hawker recalled Craig citing in a name he and Sanger would hang a pitcher of wine when he went by,” an FBI assert says.

The indictment performs up the significance of Craig’s efforts, asserting he “hand-delivered an uncommon come reproduction of the Chronicle to [Sanger’s] house.”

The fat narrative, as is in most cases the case, appears to be rather extra mundane. A protection submitting on Friday says that, when Craig showed as a lot as explain the assert, Sanger wasn’t there, so the passe D.C. criminal professional left the doc in the support of Sanger’s storm door.

The two men did talk by phone and exchange emails regarding the assert, court docket papers sigh, but if Craig’s blueprint became as soon as to position an professional-Ukraine slip on the doc, it’s no longer evident from the Instances’ skeptical, 621-observe article.

Sanger handed the narrative off to the paper’s Moscow bureau chief on the time, David Herszenhorn, who got the lead byline. Under the headline “Failings Present in Trial of Ukrainian Ex-Premier,” the article emphasised that Tymoshenko’s rights were violated all the most effective plan by the trial but also notorious that Craig’s assert “regarded as if it would possibly perchance probably well well side heavily” with Yanukovych’s authorities, namely on the test of his political rival’s guilt.

Herszenhorn, now the chief Brussels correspondent for POLITICO Europe, got the most effective on-the-document quote from Craig to appear in the article. That stutter made some degree unhelpful to Yanukovych: that Craig and the Skadden team had no longer tried to analyze whether or no longer Tymoshenko became as soon as centered for political causes.

Appropriate what else Craig mentioned to Sanger and Herszenhorn on the realm of seven years ago shall be crucial to the case, but the most effective teach testimony jurors appear at possibility of hear on that point will probably be from Craig, who legal professionals hang indicated they ask will testify in his contain protection.

The two reporters referred inquiries to Fresh York Instances criminal professional David McCraw, who defended the narrative.

“The Instances wrote an wisely skeptical narrative [that] raised questions regarding the political nature of the trial and regarding the compensation that Mr. Craig’s agency became as soon as paid for the assert,” McCraw mentioned.

The Instances article mentioned Craig wouldn’t stutter on the funding of the assert. The bulk of the extra than $four million came from a Ukrainian steel oligarch, Victor Pinchuk. Prosecutors sigh piece of why Craig didn’t register became as soon as to lead clear of revealing the financing for the assert. They also counsel he didn’t are seeking to register on legend of it would possibly perchance probably well well moreover hang an imprint on his ability to wait on in a excessive authorities post in a future administration.

McCraw mentioned he’d gotten no fee from either the prosecution or the protection that the reporters would be called as witnesses.

Journalists in most cases look to lead clear of testifying in court docket, but in the leak-connected case that Craig dealt with in 2016, the Instances reporter submitted an extraordinary written stutter making an try to gain leniency for Cartwright and downplaying the significance of the four-extensive name total’s role in Sanger’s reporting on the U.S.- and Israeli-led effort to contaminate Iran’s nuclear program with the Stuxnet worm. Cartwright pleaded responsible to lying in the case, but whereas he became as soon as ready for sentencing, President Barack Obama granted him a fat pardon.

Sanger also testified on the 2007 trial of Vice President Dick Cheney’s frail chief of personnel, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, as did assorted successfully-known journalists, fancy Tim Russert, Judith Miller and Robert Novak.

The inquiry into Craig’s activities that followed the 2012 Instances article apparently went dormant the next yr after Justice officers agreed Craig wasn’t required to register. Mueller’s team began taking a look on the reveal all as soon as more because it investigated Manafort and Gates. Craig became as soon as interviewed twice by Mueller’s build aside of job sooner than the reveal became as soon as handed off to prosecutors in Fresh York after which others in Washington, who bought the indictment of Craig in April.

Throughout the pretrial hearing Friday that ran for four hours with out a break, Jackson regarded taken aback as prosecutors and protection attorneys ticked off the those that were appealing with Craig’s Ukraine mission and are mentioned in emails and memos, but are no longer anticipated to purchase the look stand.

They embody Manafort, who became as soon as convicted at trial of tax and bank fraud and later pleaded responsible to conspiring to behave as an unregistered international agent for Ukraine and is serving a seven-yr detention center sentence; Alex Van Der Zwaan, a frail Skadden criminal professional who worked on the Ukraine mission with Craig, got 30 days in detention center for lying to Mueller’s team and became as soon as deported; Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s perfect-hand man in Ukraine who the FBI suspects has ties to Russian intelligence, became as soon as indicted at Mueller’s quiz on obstruction of justice charges and is reportedly in Russia; and Tony Podesta, a longtime Washington lobbyist who has no longer been charged with any crime but whose agency imploded in 2017 amid the Mueller investigation.

“There are going to be moderately deal of empty chairs in the court docket,” Craig criminal professional William Taylor declared on Friday, previewing a probably protection transfer to counsel that the prosecution case has too many loose ends.

Rick Gates, who’s cooperating with prosecutors as he awaits sentencing on conspiracy and fake-stutter charges brought by Mueller, is predicted to be the marquee prosecution look. The foremost protection look will doubtlessly be Craig himself.

Defense attorneys made clear final week that they intend to blast the absent Manafort and the present Gates as admitted and serial liars. On the opposite hand, in accordance with a test from the reflect, each side mentioned they didn’t notion to broach a subject that precipitated a ruckus when raised at Manafort’s trial in Virginia final yr: claims that Gates former some funds connected to the Ukraine work to finance an extramarital affair.

One other twist in the case is that whereas the indictment alleges that Craig illegally failed to file as a international agent, he is no longer charged with that offense, but fully with perpetrating a blueprint designed to duvet up his activities. The statute of barriers on his alleged failure to register as an agent for Ukraine ran out final yr, no topic a 1/2-yr extension his legal professionals agreed to as they tried to head off the case.

Jackson mentioned on Friday that the test of whether or no longer Craig became as soon as obligated to register below FARA is “a little bit tangential” to the blueprint-to-lie to tag he now faces.

In January, Skadden agreed to pay the U.S. authorities the $four.6 million the agency earned on the work and to retroactively register as an agent for Ukraine. Prosecutors agreed no longer to press charges over the episode as piece of a deal in which Skadden agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Several Skadden companions are anticipated to testify on the trial, along with as a minimum one companion on the agency who’s now a Senate Judiciary Committee counsel, Alex Haskell.

Craig became as soon as facing two same faux-stutter counts except final week, when the reflect disregarded one due to uncertainty about its applicability to Craig’s case. He faces as a lot as 5 years and a $250,000 horny if convicted on the final tag.

Sentencing suggestions will demand a lesser term, in conjunction with the probability of no detention center time at all, but any criminal conviction is at possibility of motive Craig to lose his regulation license, which he has held for the previous forty six years.